Coronavirus: Extremely Vulnerable and Vulnerable Workers

People, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus because of an underlying health condition are being told to shield or self-isolate for 12 weeks.

Extremely Vulnerable
People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include but are not limited to:

1. Solid organ transplant recipients
2. People with specific cancers:
• people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
• people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
• people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
• people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
• people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

People who fit the criteria above are being contacted directly by the NHS or another government body and advised to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

They are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face to face contact for 12 weeks from the day they receive their letter.

There is full guidance on the website HERE

Vulnerable Workers

The government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. Some are also receiving messages from the government asking them to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

• aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
• under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
• chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
• chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
• chronic kidney disease
• chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
• chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
• diabetes
• problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
• a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
• being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
• those who are pregnant

There is full guidance on the website HERE

Guidance for Employers

Employers are concerned that members of their workforce could need to be off work for 12 weeks. Clearly that has an effect on available people to carry out the required work but there are also pay implications.

Extremely Vulnerable People

These people are being written to by the Government/NHS and told to shield for 12 weeks. Shielding requires individuals to avoid all face to face contact. Even if there is work available in individual’s role these people can be placed on furlough. Click HERE for current employer guidance on furlough leave.

Vulnerable People

These are those that suffer from specific conditions and may have been told to self-isolate for 12 weeks. Self-isolation is where people stay at home but can interact with others in their household. In that case, if there is work available to them which can’t be done at home the following options may be considered:

• Statutory/Company Sick Pay – Statutory is £94.25 a week. (£95.85 from 6th April 2020).
• Use holiday, with agreement, to help cover some of this period

Those who request to stay home to care for an extremely vulnerable or vulnerable person without any suspected coronavirus symptoms may with the agreement of their employer:
• Take unpaid leave
• Could use holiday, with agreement, to help cover some of this period
• Work from home with pay

Some people in this category may feel they are able to come to work. If you feel that for health and safety reasons it is better for them to be at home, then this would be on full pay.

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